Wildlife

No Sunscreen Needed
May 12, 2015 08:47 AM - ENN Editor

With summer sun right around the corner, it is important to be prepared and protect our skin from those potentially harmful rays. Whether you use sunscreen or set up an umbrella for shade at the beach, we should be proactive so we don't get sun-burn.

For us, we take precautions, but how do the rest of the animal kingdom fare? How can animal species spend their whole lives outdoors with no apparent concern about high levels of solar exposure?

According to researchers from Oregon State University, animals make their own sunscreen.

The findings, published in the journal eLife, found that many fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds can naturally produce a compound called gadusol, which among other biologic activities provides protection from the ultraviolet, or sun-burning component of sunlight.

The researchers also believe that this ability may have been obtained through some prehistoric, natural genetic engineering.

Vineyard Habitats Attract Butterflies
May 11, 2015 04:35 PM - Scott Weybright, Washington State University

Washington wine grape vineyards experimenting with sustainable pest management systems are seeing an unexpected benefit: an increase in butterflies. Over the years, loss in natural habitat has seen the decline in numbers of around 50 species of butterflies in eastern Washington. But in a recent Washington State University study published in the June issue of the Journal of Insect Conservation, researchers found that vineyards that create nearby natural habitats have three times the number of butterfly species and four times more butterflies than conventional vineyards.

Birds abandon mating sites near wind turbines
May 6, 2015 03:24 PM - Central Ornithology Publication Office

Shifting to renewable energy sources has been widely touted as one of the best ways to fight climate change, but even renewable energy can have a downside, as in the case of wind turbines’ effects on bird populations.

Looking for diamonds? Check under this newly discovered plant
May 4, 2015 09:02 AM - Eric Hand, Science/AAAS

There’s diamond under them thar plants. A geologist has discovered a thorny, palmlike plant in Liberia that seems to grow only on top of kimberlite pipes—columns of volcanic rock hundreds of meters across that extend deep into Earth, left by ancient eruptions that exhumed diamonds from the mantle. If the plant is as choosy as it seems to be, diamond hunters in West Africa will have a simple, powerful way of finding diamond-rich deposits. Prospectors are going to “jump on it like crazy,” says Steven Shirey, a geologist specializing in diamond research at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.

Declining 'large herbivore' populations may lead to an 'empty landscape'
May 1, 2015 02:49 PM - Oregon State University via EurekAlert!

The decline of the world's large herbivores, especially in Africa and parts of Asia, is raising the specter of an "empty landscape" in some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, according to a newly published study. Many populations of animals such as rhinoceroses, zebras, camels, elephants and tapirs are diminishing or threatened with extinction in grasslands, savannahs, deserts and forests, scientists say.

What ecosystem is most at threat from human impact?
April 30, 2015 04:42 PM - ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

An international team of scientists has used the 23-million-year fossil record to calculate which marine animals and ecosystems are most at risk of extinction today. In a paper published in the journal Science, the researchers found those animals and ecosystems most threatened are predominantly in the tropics.

Parrotfish play critical role in building coral reefs
April 28, 2015 01:42 PM - University of Exeter

As well as being a beautiful species capable of changing its colour, shape and even gender, new research published today shows that parrotfish, commonly found on healthy coral reefs, can also play a pivotal role in providing the sands necessary to build and maintain coral reef islands.

Climate warming leads to earlier tick season
April 28, 2015 08:46 AM - Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

The month of May brings many things, among them Mother’s Day, tulips, and Lyme Disease Awareness campaigns. But according to Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, if we want to get a leg up on tick-borne illness we need to become vigilant earlier in the season.

Why Bees Can't Avoid Pesticides
April 27, 2015 01:07 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

Pesticides such as as neonicotinoids are already under close scrutiny because research appears to show that, certainly for honey bees at least, they may interrupt the insect’s normal behaviors and they are suspected to play a part in colony collapse disorder.

What's worse for polar bears- Global Warming or Pollution?
April 24, 2015 02:44 PM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

As if melting ice in Polar bears' Arctic habitat was not enough, Norwegian scientists have found that organic pollutants such as pesticide residues are disrupting their thyroid and endocrine systems, adding a further threat to the species' survival.

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